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Fearing Assassination,

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Fearing assassination, Sharon targets Jewish radicals


2/14/2005 9:00:00 AM GMT


After receiving several death threats against him and government ministers, israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave orders to crack down on Jewish extremists who oppose his disengagement plan.


According to Cabinet ministers the present climate is similar to that of the period prior to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.


Before his assassination, Rabin was also in peace negotiations with the Palestinian leadership.


The recent death threats against the Cabinet ministers reflect the growing tensions over Sharon’s plan to withdraw israeli settlers and troops from Gaza and four West Bank settlements this summer.


According to israeli sources, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister, had his tires slashed and slurs shouted at him while he was attending a wedding party last week.


Analysts say that attempts to assassinate the israeli Prime Minister are increasingly likely as Gaza pullout nears; sparking anger among desperate israeli settlers who oppose the plan.


An israeli military commentator has raised the possibility that a Jewish suicide bomber would blow himself up to break through Sharon’s tight cordon of bodyguards to kill him.


“The question now is not whether there will be an attempt to assassinate the prime minister, but rather how,� military commentator Alex Fishman wrote in Yediot.


Sharon targeted


One minister warned that Jewish extremists might target the israeli Prime Minister.


Jewish radicals hanged signs all over the country that say Rabin and the prime minister's deceased wife, Lily, are "waiting for Sharon."


The israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday that Cabinet minister Meir Shetreet received three death threats against his children.


israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said the threats against israeli leaders were becoming more worrisome. “All of us who support the disengagement (from Gaza) have been exposed these past few months ... to some degree of revolting behavior,� she told israel Army Radio.


Meanwhile, Sharon's Cabinet ordered the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners.


The israeli government has also permitted hundreds of Palestinian workers to return to their jobs in israel, according to agreements reached last week during the Mideast peace summit that was held in Egypt.


On the other hand, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, prepares to present a new Cabinet to his Fatah movement for approval on Tuesday.


Abbas is expected to appoint new interior, foreign and information ministers but keep on many current government members, according to officials.


Al Jazeera

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